Nicaragua is the largest but most sparsely populated country in Central American and borders Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south.
Coffee is Nicaragua’s principal export to the world and coffee production generates around $200 million dollars a year in exports and provides more than 200 thousand jobs. Around 33,000 farmers and their families depend on coffee production as their main source of income.
The specialty coffee industry in Nicaragua has been hindered over decades by unstable political systems, civil war and natural disasters. In the 1980s and 1990s, many coffee farms were abandoned or ignored under the decade-long Sandinista rule. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch ravaged the country, destroying much of the infrastructure and displacing tens of thousands of coffee farmers and workers. This was followed by the coffee crisis of 1999-2003 which had a devastating effect on the country and the coffee industry.
Until recently Nicaraguan farmers had not been able to export their coffees individually as single estates, in the past coffees were branded by big export mills and farms lost their traceability once coffees were delivered to the mills, nevertheless this situation has now changed and new groups of pioneer farmers with a vision to promote the quality coffees that the country is able to produce have managed to understand the differences between specialty and commercial commodity grade coffees and programs such as the Cup of Excellence and the creation of the Nicaraguan Specialty coffee Association have contributed positively to make these farms available worldwide.
The main coffee growing regions are Matagalpa, Jinotega, Estelí, Ocotal, San Juan de Rio Coco, Nueva Segovia.
The main coffee varietals are Caturra, Bourbon, Maracatú (experimental), Maragogype, Pacamara, Javanica (experimental), Catuaí, Catimor
In Nicaragua, the coffee industry is divided between big single estates, cooperatives and small growers associations most of the coffee production is done using the traditional wet process (fully washed) and then the parchment is dried on patios.
Some farms are experimenting with natural process and also with different drying methods such as African beds.
Depending on the weather conditions and the location of the farms, the parchment is normally transported to a lower altitude export mill for final drying until it reaches the desired humidity. Normally the weather in the high mountains is misty and the temperature low and these conditions affect the drying time giving as a result a problem later in the cup.
The quality of the roads have proved to be crucial as in previous years semi-wet parchment took longer to reach their final destination and coffees were experiencing a problem of fermentation in transit.
Nowadays the motorways are in much better shape making the trip to the drying areas faster and we have noticed the improvement and consistency with the Nicaraguan coffees we bring every year.
The harvest in Nicaragua takes place from December to March. We ship our Central American coffees at the beginning of each new crop as soon as they are rested and ready for use. This is typically during the period April to July.